The bridges The bridges along Interstate 59-20 and at the junction of Interstate 65 that pass through Birmingham’s Central Business District were constructed more than 40 years ago and were originally designed to accommodate 80,000 vehicles per day. Today, the stretch of interstate has the highest rate of traffic flow in Alabama, carrying more than twice the number of vehicles it was intended to accommodate. Consequently, the vital infrastructure has become functionally obsolete and must be replaced in the interest of public safety and to ease the flow of commerce and traffic through Birmingham’s CBD.
The Alabama Department of Transportation has turned to Volkert for Design and Construction Engineering and Inspection Services for assistance in providing a solution. ALDOT and Volkert have designed the project with distinct phases.
Phase 1 is a series of bridge widenings along I-65, just south of the interchange. Brasfield and Gorrie is the prime contractor and ALDOT is supervising this part of the construction.
Phase 2 consists of 14 new bridges, two bridge removals, seven bridge widenings, along with 16 retaining walls. In addition to the bridge construction, the project also involves work items for grade, drain, base, pave, striping, signals, and lighting. Phase 2 was let at $208 million one of the largest projects in ALDOT’s history.
The project team, consists of six project managers, a post-design project manager, an engineering project manager, a bridge project manager; and, roadway project manager. The project team also includes 12 senior inspectors and 34 inspectors.
“The biggest challenge facing the project team is meeting the project deadlines while working in such a densely populated urban setting.
Phase 3, estimated to eclipse the cost of phase 2, the project will replace the 6,600-foot bridge through the heart of the CBD with a new segmental bridge, along with the replacing of the structures just east at the Carraway Blvd. and Red Mountain Expressway interchange. Volkert’s project team also will perform the CEI on the project.
Upon completion of phase 3, the final project will include paving and striping throughout the interchange.
“The end result of the construction will see a new, more effective interchange and interstate system through downtown Birmingham,” Nelson said. “The project eliminates dangerous weaving patterns and improves access points throughout the system, effectively improving safety and raising the system’s level of service.”